The Curiosity Podcast

How Your Sense Of Smell Is Like A Superpower

Your sense of smell is like a superpower. Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation explains how you can make the most of it.

Your nose is always working, even when you're asleep. It can affect your mood, your ability to concentrate, and even your sense of time and space. The kicker? A lot of the time, you may not even know you're being affected! Stream or download the podcast using the player below, or find the episode everywhere podcasts are found, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Gretta.

The Secret Power of Smell

To learn more about smell, we sat down with Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of smell and taste loss. Dr. Hirsch is Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, where he conducts in-depth studies of the chemosensory system and its impact on virtually all aspects of life: behavior, emotions, mood and human interaction, and even learning speed. He has also written numerous books including "Scentsational Weight Loss", "Scentsational Sex", and "What Flavor Is Your Personality?"

Our discussion was far-reaching and includes several revelations about smell. For example:

  • Detecting a smell can induce changes in brain waves even when an odor is so subtle, it's not consciously registered.
  • We can train ourselves to respond positively (or negatively) to certain odors, which can overcome our brain's physiological response to it.
  • The presence of malodors can increase aggression, and the presence of certain positive aromas can affect everything from speed of learning to hand-eye coordination to our perception of time and space itself.
  • Different odors can impact sexual arousal in men versus women - and perfume and men's cologne have some of the least positive effects!
  • "We know much more about the moon than we do about smell."
  • Studies have correlated a person's preferred flavor of ice cream and other foods with his/her personality, and often the more "plain" flavors describe a more outgoing and energetic personality.

Listen to the full episode to hear Dr. Hirsch discuss these insights and many more in detail! Click here to follow along with a written transcript of this episode (and share clips with your friends).

Dr. Alan Hirsch, Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago

About the Curiosity Podcast: Curiosity makes you smarter – and so will this podcast. Each episode features experts in every field who explain why their knowledge is important and why you should care. Developed as an audio companion to the existing Curiosity experience, you'll learn about your brain and your body, outer space and the depths of the sea, how history shaped the world into what it is today, and more. From the largest galaxies to your smallest brain cells, hosts Cody Gough and Ashley Hamer will share their curiosity to help you understand the world better.

Written by Cody Gough July 20, 2017

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